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UNMASKED! Meet the families that ruined Benue State

Written By Idoma Television on Friday, November 13, 2015 | 11:29:00 PM

The Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Commission of Inquiry last Thursday heard that politicians, their family members and aides benefited from the N500 million Bank of Industry loan meant for small and medium enterprises secured by immediate past administration under Governor Gabriel Suswam.
Testifying before the commission, a retired Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Igbalumun Igbudu, disclosed that the disbursement commenced under his stewardship at the Ministry.

He explained that the process was handled by a former Commissioner in the ministry, Mr. Terfa Ihindan, and the consultant, Data Diamond Global Concept and confirmed that politicians, their children and aides were beneficiaries of the loan.
Mr. Igbudu said a total of 700 beneficiaries were shortlisted for the funds, adding that by the time he left office, only N6 million from the loan was left in the account.

Also testifying before the Commission, another former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Augustine Odey, confirmed that the fund was to be paid into the Ministry’s account as loan for SMES, but that he was no longer in the office when the disbursement commenced.
Messrs Odey and Igbudu were summoned to give clarification during their tenure in office.
Mr. Odey who served between 2009 and 2012 denied knowledge of N152 million withdrawn on April 24th, 2012, N200 million on 13th August, 2007; N710 million withdrawn on 31st December, 2010, from the Ministry’s account and paid into fixed deposits accounts at UBA, Zenith Bank, and Eco Bank.

He said he did not know who benefited from the accrued interest saying Mr. Cephas Akpam who was the accountant then should be called upon to explain.
Mr. Odey also stated that the former Commissioner in the Ministry, Mr. Alex Adum, directed the opening of an account for Benue Integrated Company Limited where all revenue collected at the Modern Market and others were lodged though there was no memo from the State Executive Council to that effect.

On his part, the former Managing Director, Data Diamond Global Concept, who is the current Special Adviser to the Governor on Rural Development and Cooperatives, Mr. Tsenongo Abancha, said he got a verbal contract from the then Commissioner and was to be paid N30 million for both the processing and recovery of the loan.
He stated that N19 million had been paid to him adding that lack of cooperation from the Ministry was hampering the recovery of the processing fee due to him.

In another development, the commission also heard that the immediate past Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia, approved the withdrawal of N50 million for what he called additional cost of running government without approval from the then Governor.
In her testimony, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Ruth Ijir, explained that she was on leave on January 23rd this year when the money was withdrawn.

She denied that the signature authorising the payment of the money was her own explaining that it was the Director of administration and Supply, Mr. Salihu Umar, who signed the document which authorized the Accountant General to pay.

When asked to explain what happened to the money, Mr. Umar stated that it was Mr. Oklobia who directed him to write to the Accountant General’s office for the release of the amount saying he did not know who actually collected it at the treasury.
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